A moment in parenthood

SavThis little monkey has been sick this week. Even the most patient Daddy was starting to lose it with her. I got up with her one morning, and within 5 minutes, I was yelling at her while she screamed and bawled on the floor. Miss CrankyPants is impossible to please when she’s sick. I guess Mrs. CrankyPants also lacks the patience to deal with it all.

Yesterday when I finally managed to put her down for a nap, I sat there looking at her sleep so peacefully. It was a drastic contrast to just minutes before this, when she was screaming and crying and kicking at my face.

As I sat, watching her sleep, I felt so emotional that she’s growing so quickly. I always feel like I haven’t savoured enough of her smallness. How is she not a little baby anymore? When did all this growing happen? How is she already registered for preschool for this fall?

For me, parenthood is so full of contradictions and conflicting emotions. One minute you’re yelling at your sick and whiney 2-year-old, and the next minute you’re crying next to her bed because she’s growing too fast? One day you wish they’d be more independent, and the next day you wish they’d never leave the house. I have never been this busy, this tired, yet this happy before.

Just another moment in being a parent.

Day 309/365 {fair}

I’m in a few mommies discussion groups on Facebook. In one particular group, a mom posed a question today: If you have two kids, how do you ensure you are “fair” with both of them?

It sparked a lot of responses from various moms about how to be “fair”, how to make sure you give the same type of toy to each child, give the same amount of time and energy to each, etc. It reminded me how my parents always tried to be “fair”, which really meant my brother and I ended up with two of the same toys so we don’t fight.

Since I had Savanna, this is something I have been trying to grapple with. It started with the 3D ultrasound, before she was even born. When I was pregnant with Josh, I had 3D ultrasound done. I bought a $150 package, which came with a CD of the still images of Josh as a fetus. But when I was pregnant with Savanna, I really wanted the $200 package which came with a video. Should I pay the same price and get the same package so it’s “fair” for both kids? So when they’re all grown up and compare notes, Josh won’t feel like he was ripped off because he didn’t get a video from his 3D ultrasound?

It has taken me a while to come to this conclusion: being fair is over-rated.

So what if I bought the same ultrasound package for both kids, put the same amount of RESP away for them, buy the same brand and model of car seat for them, make sure they got the same snacks in the same amount, and spent the same amount of time with each of them? Yes, I’d be totally “fair”. But I would have also totally missed the point of having two children who are individuals with different needs and desires.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a super mom who can manage to be “fair”. It will always be in the back of my mind that I need to be fair, but I think the reality is that I’m human and I will love my kids differently. My relationship with Josh will always be different from my relationship with Savanna. I have decided that I’m ok with that.Angela Chang Photography Day 309 of 365

The big brother

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I get asked a lot about how Joshua has been since Savanna’s arrival.  I would have to say it has been a mixed bag of reactions.

When Savanna first arrived, Joshua was pretty excited about the train set she gave him at the hospital.  He constantly thanked her for the toys.  He kissed her and hugged her a lot.  He demanded to hold her.  But every time I am nursing her, he asked for milk too, or he has to go pee and I had to tend to him.

Over the next few months, I noticed that Joshua talked a lot more than he used to.  He had a lot more to say, asked for a lot more attention, and asked a lot of questions.  “Where are you going, Mommy?  What are you doing, Mommy?  What is mei-mei doing, Mommy?  Where is mei-mei, Mommy?  Can you play with me, Mommy?  Can you put mei-mei down, Mommy?  What’s the diaper for?  I want some milk.”  He was always very gentle with her, hugged and kissed her all the time.

Once Savanna started to smile, Joshua found new joy in making her laugh.  He made silly faces or noises non-stop if it make Savanna laugh.  In the car, he insisted on holding her hand.  Once I asked him why he had to hold her hand, he told me that because she was scared.  It melted me.

When I nurse Savanna, Joshua started to ask for milk or potty less and less over time.  It did take quite a few months (6 months, maybe?).  Now that Savanna is 9 months old, he only sees me nurse her twice a day, and he generally just plays on his own quietly.

Joshua never used pacifiers; he just didn’t take to them.  I bought some new soothers in preparation for Savanna’s arrival, but she didn’t take to them either.  Even though she didn’t use them, we had some just laying around the place.  All of a sudden Joshua wanted to use them.  I didn’t make a big deal out of it.  I let him suck on soothers whenever he wanted to.  He even fell asleep one day with one in his mouth.  But last week when I packed up all the soothers around the house, he didn’t even notice they were gone.

Now that Savanna is crawling and reaching for toys, a new set of trouble starts.  She would grab whatever toy within her reach, and start chewing on it.  Joshua would sometimes rip toys out of her hand because it’s “his” toy.  If I told him to share, he’d start crying.  No amount of reasoning works to keep the peace.  I tried telling him to give her a different toy before taking something from him, but he just doesn’t seem to slow down enough to bring her a different toy first.

I can see how my brother and I drove my mother crazy enough that she always bought two identical toys for us, so that we wouldn’t fight over them.

Then there are moments that Joshua surprises me.  He’d bring toys to Savanna, line them all up around her, and talk to her about what she can do with each toy.  If Savanna is crying and I couldn’t get to her quick enough, he’d run to her, comfort her, and give her hugs.  Sometimes I can hear Savanna giggling uncontrollably because Joshua is doing something to make her laugh.  She totally adores him.

Joshua drives me crazy on a daily basis.  I apologize to him at least once a day for being impatient or raising my voice at him.  Yet at the same time I am so proud of who he is becoming.  Every afternoon when we go walk the dog, he runs up ahead of me, bouncing all over the place on the side walk, skipping and giggling and waving his arms, like any happy kid would.  Those are the moments I think that this parenting gig is so awesome.

Impatience

I’ve been thinking lately that I’m not quite as patient as I used to be.  When we had just Joshua, sometimes I amazed myself how much patience I had with him.  I tried explaining everything to him, answered all his questions, and rarely got angry with him.

Lately though, it seems that I’ve reverted back to my true self–impatient and easily angered.  Sometimes Joshua bombards me with inconsequential questions, and I just want to put a piece of duct tape over his mouth.  Here’s an example of our conversation in the car this morning:

“Mommy, what are you eating?”  A carrot.

“Mommy, what color is the carrot?”  Purple.

“Mommy, what are you eating?”  A carrot.

“Mommy, is it a vegetable?”  Yes it is.

“Mommy, do you like the carrot?”  Yes.

“Mommy, do you like vegetable?”  Yes, I do.

“Mommy, do you like the purple carrot?”  Yes.

“Mommy, do you like the vegetable carrot?”  Yes.

“Does Daddy like carrot?”  Yes he does.

“Does Daddy like vegetable?”  Sometimes.

“You like your vegetable?”  Yes.

“I don’t want vegetable.”  I’m glad we had that established.

I have a feeling I’m less patient now for a few reasons.  There is one other person I’m constantly taking care of now, who wasn’t here 8 months ago.  My attention is constantly split between Joshua and Savanna, and that drives me a little crazy.  I’m not that good with focusing on more than one thing at a time.  Also, I am probably taking Joshua for granted in general.  When I was on mat leave with him, I treasured every moment I had with him.  Then when I went back to work, the time with him became even more precious.  Now I see him everyday and feel like I always fall short of his demands, and I become irritated.

And you know what irks me?  He doesn’t ask Cliff a gazillion questions.  I have no idea why he only does this with me.
Anyway, this is just another confession post.

How to get some privacy

Joshua isn’t terrified of loud noises, but he doesn’t really enjoy them.  I always warn him before I turn on our blender or my hair dryer so he doesn’t get startled.

I was in the shower tonight when Joshua came barging into the bathroom.

Joshua: Mommy?

Me: Yes?

Joshua: Are you taking a shower?

Me: Yes.

Joshua: Mommy, would you like some privacy? [It kills me that he asks me that after barging in!]

Me: Haha, oh yes I would!

Joshua: blah blah blah blah blah…he goes on to ask me 20 questions about if I could come out and play with him, am I done yet, if he can go pee on the potty, if Savanna is going to take a shower, if he is getting a bath or a shower…

Joshua: Mommy, are you going to dry your hair?

Me: Yes.

Joshua: Is it going to be loud?

Me: The hair dryer?  Yes, a little bit.

Joshua: Bye-bye, Mommy!

I think from now on, every time I go to the bathroom I am going to turn on the hair dryer.  Maybe that’ll buy me some privacy.

 

Girls-only day

The thing about having 2 kids at home is that you don’t get much one-on-one time with either one of them.  When Joshua was a baby, it was just me and him at home, so I had a lot of stare-at-my-baby-because-he-is-so-amazing time.  I don’t have much of that with Savanna, unfortunately.  Even when I am nursing her or changing her diaper, I usually have Joshua hanging off my leg asking me to play with him.  I’m not complaining that Joshua wants me to play with him, because who knows how long that will last.  I just wish sometimes I had some one-on-one time with my little girl.

So I made today a girls-only day.  Cliff took Joshua to music class in the morning and went to visit Cliff’s mom afterwards.  I stayed home with Savanna in the morning for some mother-daughter time, then took her to watch a movie with a friend at SilverCity (the “Stars and Stroller” program with lower volume, change table, and free diapers).

It was so nice to just be with Savanna.  I took a gazillion pictures of her, played with her, napped with her, and watched a movie together.  It almost surprised me to realize how little “focused” time I get to spend with her.  It felt so relaxing and so luxurious to just hang out with my little girl.

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My kids aren’t always monsters

Today was one of those unreal days where everything was easy.  Joshua started the morning with helping himself to the potty before Cliff or I even woke up.  By the time I heard him, he had already taken off his own pants and underwear and peed in the potty.  Savanna slept till 8 am.  Cliff went to work and the rest of us went and played at the park behind us and had a good time.  We bought some dog treats and bird seeds.  We watched an excavator dig up dirt.  We had lunch.  And get this, both kids went down for naps without fussing or crying or potty accidents!  Even I got a short nap in!  The afternoon was calm and peaceful with no temper tantrums or whining.  Joshua had a decent amount of food for dinner.

I know I probably write more about the kids being little monsters than angels.  But the truth is, they aren’t always little monsters out to get me.  It was very easy to feel the joy of being a mom of two today.  I am going to fix today in my mind, so I don’t get all bent out of shape when they act like little monsters.

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1 parent + 2 kids + 1 dog

Yesterday was my first time at home with two kids all day.  Cliff would be gone all day at work, and my postpartum doula was not scheduled to come help.  I know this is not a big deal to a lot of people, but it is to me.  The first time for everything is always scary.

I survived the day.  Sort of.

First thing after breakfast, I packed up the kids and went to the Creekside Community Centre play gym.  Just getting the two kids ready and into the car took me about 1/2 hour and I was sweating like a pig.  But we’re off to a good start with finding free parking very close to the gym.

With all the background noise in the gym, I was hoping that Savanna would sleep through most of the play time after I fed her.  It was not so.  She was awake the entire 1 1/2 hour we were there.  And in my haste to get out the door, I had forgotten to bring the baby carrier.  That meant I was holding a baby with a wobbly head in one arm, pushing Joshua in a push car with the other arm, all the while trying to pull up my pants because the elastic in my maternity jeans is starting to fall apart.  I totally looked like I got life figured out.

After the gym, we went for a short walk by the water so Joshua can check out boats and the big bird statutes in the plaza by the community centre.  I would have to say the play gym trip was a success because Joshua had a good time, and my pants didn’t fall off.

We came home for lunch.  Then it came time for what I dread the most–nap time.  It’s not napping that I dreaded; it was the logistics of napping that I was afraid of.

You see, I always let Joshua nap with me or Cliff.  So even though he sleeps on his own perfectly at night, he would have to nap with one of us to fall asleep.  Now I’m stuck with having to lay down with Joshua and hope Savanna would stay quiet long enough for Joshua to fall asleep.  So I laid down with Joshua, left Savanna on her own, and of course she starts crying and waking up Joshua.  I told Joshua I had to go take care of Savanna, then he started to cry.  I consoled him and promised him I’d come back.  I went to check on Savanna and settled her down.  She fell asleep.  I came back to see Joshua, and put him to sleep.  Just when I took a deep breath to enjoy the peace and quiet of having both kids asleep, Joshua woke up crying for some reason, waking up Savanna.  This went on for 1 1/2 hour–the two of them taking turns waking each other up. I was starting to lose my mind.

I gave up the napping attempt.  I told Joshua we’re going to play at the park.  He said he didn’t want to play at the park.  I said that’s too bad, we’re going to play at the park, because none of you are napping.  Then he said, “I’m peeing.”  Yeah, he was peeing, while laying in my bed!

That’s when I yelled.

I know you’re not supposed to yell, especially when you’re potting training your child.  But I yelled.  I felt lousy afterwards, but in the heat of the moment I just lost it.

I was exhausted.  I was tired of changing sheets and friggin potty accidents.  He was awake when this happened, so it’s not even like it was an “accident” when he is asleep.  I raised my voice and asked him why he peed in my bed.  He started to cry and scream.  Savanna started to cry.  I raised my voice even more, asking Joshua again why he peed in my bed.  He screamed more.  It was such a productive communication moment in our lives.  Not.

I changed our sheets and Joshua’s clothes.  I felt like the worst mother in the world for yelling at Joshua.  I sat down with Joshua to apologize to him and ask for forgiveness.  He said sorry for peeing in my bed.  We hugged.

Then I packed up both kids and Sam and went to play at the park.  Joshua was in the stroller, Savanna was in the baby carrier, and Sam was tangled somewhere between the stroller and my feet.  After getting very dirty with digging in the sandpit, we went to Tisol to get some dog treats and bird seeds.  I kept looking for signs how I’ve scarred my child with my yelling, but he was quite chatty and happy the whole time.

We made dinner and sat down to eat together.  Shortly after that, Cliff came home, ending my first day of being by myself with two kids.  Everybody was alive, so I celebrated with drinking a beer and taking a long shower.

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Contender to the top of the gross-ness chart

I will soon give everyone an update on how Savanna is doing with the bottle issue.  But today I have to tell you all about one of the most disgusting things happening in our household, because I cannot bear keeping the story to myself!

We have been using the NoseFrida snot sucker since Joshua was a little baby, and now we use it on Savanna.  (You know where this is going, right?)  The NoseFrida is a tube you use to suck snot out of your baby.  The concept is a bit gross, but man, this thing is more effective than any other product for snot removal.  You put the tip of the tube in your baby’s nose, and put the red mouth piece in your mouth, and manually suck out the snot.  There’s a blue filter that stops the snot from being sucked into your mouth, so it’s all good.  The snot sucker gets the job done quickly and safely, and babies get instant relief.  I’ve told all my friends about this product, and most of them find it very useful as well.

The NoseFrida snot sucker.

The NoseFrida snot sucker.

Savanna has been under the weather this week, so Cliff has the snot sucker out, ready for use.  Last night when Savanna was quite congested, Cliff used it on her.  He put the tip end close to her nose, put the mouth piece in his mouth, and sucked on the tube.  He could see a bunch of snot coming out of her nose, going into the tube.

Cliff continued sucking, trying to remove all the snot from Savanna’s nose.  With all the effort in sucking, Cliff thought his mouth was producing extra saliva because all of a sudden he felt a rush of saliva in his mouth.  He thought nothing of it, finished sucking, and went to wash out the tube.

When he went to the bathroom to wash the tube, he took apart the snot sucker, and realized that the filter was not where it needed to be.  The filter that stops snot from getting sucked into your mouth is missing.  So all that extra saliva he was feeling?  Yeah, not saliva.  It was Savanna’s snot.  The snot ended up in Cliff’s mouth, and he swallowed it all.

Have you lost your dinner yet?

A year ago I wrote a post about Joshua putting his snot in my mouth, and I thought that was the top of the gross-ness chart.  I think Cliff’s story is a strong contender for the top of the gross-ness chart!

The pregnant witch

Let me skip over the part about how much build-up of frustration I’ve had for the last few weeks about everything, and just get to the part about my Halloween costume idea.  For this Halloween, I am going to dress up as a pregnant witch.

 

Today is the first day of my maternity leave.  We had planned on going south of the border to do a bit of shopping to stock up on our favorite Trader Joe’s goodies, and pick up a few parcels.  Everything went as planned.  We even got to celebrate a little after reporting $800 of purchases at the border and not being asked to pay any taxes.  So you would think that is a good day, right?

We got home just around lunch time.  I had Joshua in my arms when we entered our apartment.  As soon as we came in, Joshua pointed to something on the kitchen island and said, “Joshua want that.”  I didn’t really know what he wanted.  So I pointed to the tube of finger paint and said, “Is this what you want?”  He said no.  I pointed to the snack cup and asked, “Is this what you want?”  He said no, and started to pout a bit.  I pointed to the box of tissue and asked, “Is this what you want?”  He said no, and now he’s starting to do this quivering with his lower lip like he’s about to cry.

I put him down on the floor, as I could no longer handle holding onto him to figure out what he really wanted.  Now he’s mad.  He starts to cry.  He points up at the kitchen island and said, “Joshua want that.”  Well, I’ve already gone through everything on the kitchen island. So I repeated through them again, the finger paint? No.  The snack up?  No.  The box of tissue?  No.  Well, there was nothing else there!

Now he is wailing, like I’m hurting him.  “Joshua want that!!”  Ugh.  I try to take a deep breath, and said, “Joshua, what do you want?  Please use your words.”  He responds with “Waaaaah…Joshua want that!” with his right index finger still pointing up at the kitchen island.

He has been doing this quite often in the last couple of weeks.  He’ll want something, but it seems like whatever option there is available is not good enough for him.  It’s not even that I won’t give him what he wants, but it’s more like whatever he wants does not actually exist and he just punishes me for it.  I’ve really tried to be patient, telling myself not to take it out on Joshua that I am so tired and at my wits end with everything.

But today, I lost it.  I threw my purse on the floor, and left him there standing next to Cliff and crying.  I went to the bathroom, slammed the door shut, and stayed inside.  He was still crying by the kitchen, and repeating, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”  Yes, I know I am so going to win the mother-of-the-year award, particularly in the gentle and loving category.

So that was the incident that inspired my costume idea.